My Heart is hurting today. Today I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends, Max. Max was a 19-year old Manx cat and I had to make the decision to send him to the Rainbow Bridge. His brother Cleo (whom I lost back in April) is there waiting for him and now they can be together again, as they were while they were here on Earth.
My Gran always told me that as a parent, you’re not supposed to have favorites. But I couldn’t help having an extra soft spot for the tiny kitten who came into our lives back in 1993. Since I never had kids, my animals became ‘surrogate’ children, and Max was undoubtedly my favorite. We rescued Max from a “backyard breeder” in Indianapolis when he was only 5 weeks old. He was the runt of the litter and fit in the palm of my ex-husband’s hand! The poor little guy was all belly and ears (and of course, without a tail) and covered in fleas. It looked like he had had to fight for his food against his siblings and he growled when he ate for the first month. But we knew right away that this was one kitten who would give us all he had.
We named him “Max” because he was a Manx to the Max! The Manx breed are born without tails and are some of the most loyal, loving cats you can find. They usually bond with one person and Max has always preferred men over women, for some reason. I didn’t take offense, I just loved him anyway. He was a constant source of laughs for us as he was always showing us how brave he was. We had a 55-gallon fish tank with Oscars at the time we first got him. It sat on cinder blocks on the floor, because we didn’t have a stand for it at the time, so there was a small ledge going all the way around that Max would walk on. The fish were bigger than he was and he would walk along the ledge batting at the Oscars. When they swam up to the side to investigate, he would arch up his back and try to prove that he wasn’t scared. 🙂
He grew into a beautiful cat with a silky soft coat, almost like rabbit fur. In fact, we called Max our “cabbit” because his little stump of a tail and hopping gait made him seem half cat, half rabbit. Boy, could he jump! Manxes are built with much longer legs than most cats to make up balance for not having a long tail. In pet show society, if a Manx has a “hopping gait”, like Max had, he would be considered ‘sub-par’ and not show material, because the bunny hop is considered to be a sign of ‘Manx Syndrome’, in which the last few vertebrae of the spine are shortened or weak. In fact, most kittens with Manx Syndrome do not live more than a few weeks or months. But Max made it to 19! He loved to pose for the camera and loved being the center of attention. And he was always so brave. When we lived at my mom’s house, I used to let him and Cleo out into the back yard there, which is much like an open park area – there are small herds of deer that cross through the yard in the morning and evening. I wish I would have gotten a video of it, but there was one time when Max was out there and he actually CHASED the deer! It was like his feral instinct took over and the deer were his prey! My mom and I just looked at each other in shock that this little cat would actually chase something as big as full grown deer. LOL. The deer started, and moved away, but then they realized that there was no way Max was going to hurt them. He stopped and sat there watching them for a minute and then returned to the patio. I’m sure in his mind, he had successfully ‘defended’ his territory.
He was always so handsome and would always talk to you when you entered the room. I think it’s going to take some time to get over losing this guy. I’ve always believed in quality of life over quantity. Max’s quality of life had steadily gotten worse in the past few months since losing Cleo. He had severe arthritis in his hips and his last spinal vertebrae finally disintegrated, making it impossible for him to get up and walk. So I know that even as hard as it is for me, I made the right choice and had to let him go.
Goodbye, my sweet cabbit. I know you’ll be happy being reunited with Cleo and you won’t suffer anymore. You were well-loved. Thank you for filling my life with such tender joy and smiles. I will miss you more than you know.